Downton Anti-OTP 1: Sybil and Branson
I <3 Downton Abbey, but I really dislike lots of the couples on the show. So I’m going to complain about them! Ldt’s start with Sybil and Branson!
So, at the end of season one I was like okay, this could work. If any daughter is going to get with the help, it’s certainly not going to be Mary, you know? Sybil and Branson are both deeply interested in politics so they could really connect on an intellectual level. That’d be cool.
Instead, this is basically what happened. Ready? Go!
Branson: YER GONNA LOVE ME SYBIL
Sybil: Look, I like you and I want to talk to you, but I have other stuff going on in my life, you know? Nursing, my feminist leanings, etc.
Branson: LOVE ME!
Sybil: Umm, I don’t even know.
Branson: ONLY I UNDERSTAND YOU. Also your work isn’t as important as Ireland’s revolution. And I know you say you don’t love me but you do because I SAY so. Now love me!
Sybil: Maybe, but can you be less pushy?
Branson: LOVE MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!
Sybil: Well, the war’s over and I’m bored. Okay.
Seriously. I know Branson’s “certainty” was supposed to be romantic. That we were supposed to see Sybil’s feelings growing over time or some shit. But the way I read it was Boy likes girl. Boy insists girl will like boy and won’t let it drop in spite of her multiple rejections. Girl gets worn down after a while and gives in.
Sybil is so stripped of her agency. (All the girls on this show are, over and over.) That’s what really pisses me off. She is the sister with the most overt feminist leanings (though Edith and Mary both have some to a point). She is the only one who really cares about the world and forms opinions about anything happening outside of Downton. But she’s reduced to the passive role, pursued by Branson. I don’t know if I would have liked the pairing any better if Sybil had done the pursuing tbh, but at least if would have been Sybil’s story.
I’ve only seen up to series 3 episode 1, but I was spoiled about Sybil’s storyline and omg does that make me all the more mad about this pairing.
What can I say, there are just about a hundred other directions I’d rather have seen Sybil’s storyline go. She could have gone to more protests. She could have gone to college, how cool would that have been? (An uncommon choice, but some women did do it.) I mean, she’s the radical so let her do something radical, okay?
I’m not saying I’d want Sybil to have zero romantic plots, or even that I would have been against her getting together with Branson in all circumstances, but I just hate hate HATE the way it was done. Like, if Sybil and Branson had, say, taken to sneaking off to radical events and then Branson helped Sybil get published despite her womanness and they had fallen in love with each other’s brains and been daring and awesome I would be like HELL YEAH. But instead we get a stale plot where Branson takes on the roll of the Man Who Knows Better and Sybil bends to his will when the plot demands it. It stinks. Branson and Sybil are my anti-OTP. One of my many anti-OTPs of Downton Abbey.